Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Occupational Knowledge

...Other than lopsided shoulders, I can't really say what a life under the lens will bring you. The following, however, I DO KNOW...

When desperately searching for kids playing in the (half-inch of fresh) snow blanketing sparse portions of your viewing area, proceed straight to the worst neighborhood you can think of. Out in the ‘burbs kids are laid up inside, playing Guitar Hero on their Wii as Mummy readies the hot-chocolate. In the inner city however, youngsters are rolling Frosty out of gravel and cigarette butts, riding trashcan lids down ill-advised hillsides and lobbing snowballs at passing cop cars. I ain’t sayin’ it’s right, just that it makes for better tee-vee.

Academians are as obsessed with status as any network news anchor. When they agree to be interviewed by the local TV station, they fully expect a locally famous face to show up and validate their newsworthiness. Thus, they're taken aback somewhat when a scruffycrew of one shows up. Often miffed, they proceed to answer the on-camera questions with dripping derision for the lowly camera monkey before them. I usually play dumb (like that guy from Cash Cab), then hit them with a twenty dollar sentence, replete with eloquence and insight. Then I silently pass gas while they stammer.

Three minutes after agreeing to wear a wireless lapel microphone, the average bloke forgets all about it - especially in a crowd. This of course can be great source of entertainment, for very often the bugged-subject will ignore the fact the cameraman is wearing headphones and proced to mumble profanities, trash talk the media, hint at past peccadillos or - best of all- excuse themselves to urinate. Kinda explains the fruity behavior regularly showcased on reality TV, don't it?

The apex and nadir of the human condition are as difficult to predict as the last few snowfalls. Could the conduct of we thinking apes truly be forecast, ALL news footage would be perfectly centered, in focus and gleamingly coherent. Alas, it is not to be. However, should you neglect to gas up your station vehicle, charge those camera batteries or check your stash of discs or tapes, you can guaran-damn-tee that something of value will fall from the sky, the Mayor will call a press conference and cop to that affair or Osama Bin Laden will get popped shoplifting at the Wal-Mart.

Despite their stern denials, police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians love to be on television - preferably doing something heroic. As a vagabond of the Fourth Estate, I'm happy to oblige one way or the other - be it a car crash, stand-off or heated exchange outside the battered woman's shelter. What's most taxing however are undercover vice cops, who will interrupt the meth lab takedown to tell you they cannot be shown on-camera, at which point they flex and preen center-screen - often while dressed like that little squirrelly brute on Dog the Bounty Hunter...



Joel Leonard said...

Wow, more lenslinging wisdom to start my day!

Got a question for you. How do you deal with the outside world trying to get into your story?

I am used to car and airplanes noise, and dealing with waitstaff clanging utensils, or even the idiot who walks right between me and the interviewee. But geesh competing with domestic critters hamming up for the camera, takes the cake.

Kenny C. said...

Stew, I can totally agree with, and relate to, number 2 and 3! But number 5... not in Winston, dude.